Nobody seeks out vague promises

As marketers we all love to promise the earth but you need to be able deliver on what you’re offering. If you need to use weasel words and internal jargon to qualify your promises, you’re doing it wrong.

When you see an advert for flatscreen TVs offering a ‘free Blu-Ray player with selected TVs’ – what’s your thought process? Is it ‘ooh, I’m gonna get a free Blu-Ray player’ or is it ‘I bet the one I want doesn’t come with a free Blu-Ray player’. How about a sale sign that offers ‘Up to 50% off’? I guess it depends on whether you’re a glass half-full or half-empty kind of person. Maybe you get a nice surprise or maybe you’re disappointed. The one thing that word ‘selected’ doesn’t do is fill you with confidence because it immediately creates a doubt in your mind.

Customers don’t know what ‘selected’ means in that context, they don’t know what a company’s ‘primary service areas’ are. All they know is that the company wants their offer to sound good whilst leaving some wiggle room. Customers don’t care about a company’s ability to squirm out of providing something. They want what they’re promised.

Under-promise, over-deliver
That’s what we should aim for. That’s what gets customers telling their friends about us. The opposite can make people talk about us for all the wrong reasons.

If you’d prefer to state up front everything people can expect from you as part of your service or offering, then go ahead, but don’t hide behind puffery and ambiguity. If there are limitations, don’t be afraid to state them – you’ll only be called on it later if you don’t.

Image credit: kjpm via Creative Commons on Flickr

5 thoughts on “Nobody seeks out vague promises”

  1. Yes, there seems to be this red mist that descends when people are writing copy that drives them to overstate something, but surround it with weasel words so they’re not held to it later. Assuming your customer is dumb has two possible outcomes: 1) No customers or 2) Only dumb customers.

  2. Yes, there seems to be this red mist that descends when people are writing copy that drives them to overstate something, but surround it with weasel words so they're not held to it later. Assuming your customer is dumb has two possible outcomes: 1) No customers or 2) Only dumb customers.

  3. Yes, there seems to be this red mist that descends when people are writing copy that drives them to overstate something, but surround it with weasel words so they're not held to it later. Assuming your customer is dumb has two possible outcomes: 1) No customers or 2) Only dumb customers.

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